The Jonas Family on Edgewater Avenue

Vol. XX No. 3 - FALL 2009

Frank Emil Jonas was born in Chicago on October 17, 1880 and Amelia Elida Pearson was born on March 19, 1883 in Loda, IL. Frank and Amelia were married in 1906 and moved into their first apartment on Edgewater Avenue. The apartment was just east of the alley, east of Clark Street (about 1530 Edgewater), and on the second floor. It was here that their first child, Earl Edgar, was born in 1909.

When their second child, Raymond Carl, was born in 1912 they took a larger apartment in the house next door at 1526 Edgewater. In about 1919 the Jonas family bought their only home, a two story cottage at 1512 Edgewater. It was in this house that the third son, Robert Frank, was born in 1923.

All three boys attended Helen C. Peirce School and all graduated. Of course they went on to Senn High School. Earl attended Senn for two years but then left and went to work; Raymond attended for three years and then he too left for work. After the older boys pleaded with their parents, Robert was allowed to go full term and he graduated from high school. All of the boys were confirmed at Unity Lutheran Church at Balmoral and Magnolia, the family church.

Robert reports “We all enjoyed attending the Calo, Temple and Bryn Mawr theaters. During the depression the Temple was our favorite place because it was 10 cents on Saturdays for three westerns, three comics, and three serials. When we went to the theater our mother packed us a lunch. The Temple opened at 10:00 a.m. and they threw us out at 5:00 p.m.”

Earl worked at Basstion and Blessing Company on Peterson Avenue and Raymond worked at the Edgewater Beach Hotel until he went to work at Automated Electric, where our father also worked. Robert worked at Commonwealth Edison and attended night school at IIT.

Frank and Amelia continued living in the home at 1512 until 1956 when Frank died. Millie (as she was called) continued to live there until 1970 when the boys had to put her in a nursing home. She and her family had lived on Edgewater Avenue for 64 years, and she was the last to leave. Millie died in 1980.

Many Jonas, Schmit, Pearson, and Wesslund aunts, uncles, and cousins lived in the Edgewater neighborhood. We shared membership in the Edgewater Historical Society and talked old times in the neighborhood almost all the time as we got older according to Robert who moved to Colorado.

Ray Jonas was interested in photography and when he heard about the founding of the Edgewater Historical Society in 1988 he contacted us to offer some of his photos of the area. In our collections now are seven photos. Perhaps the most famous is the one he took in 1930 from the Bryn Mawr “L” platform looking east. It has been used in some of the events surrounding the improvement of Bryn Mawr and its designation as an Historic District.